Pure Obsessional OCD


Most people have an understanding of OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) and they associate this with compulsions that are visible, like repeated hand washing or checking doors are locked and everything is turned off.  However not as many people are aware that there is a form of OCD that has compulsions that they cannot see as they occur in the persons head.

Pure obsessional OCD, more commonly referred to as pure O is a sub type of obsessive compulsive disorder, and not as some people believe, a less severe form.  Like OCD pure O causes unwanted thoughts, feelings and emotions, as well as compulsions, just mental ones rather than physical ones.

These intrusive and unwanted thoughts can be disturbing and distressing because of their nature, and because people with pure O are unable to dismiss them and start to obsess over them.

Types of pure O thoughts

These thoughts generally tend to be sexual thoughts, which can be related to sexual orientation, sexual violence or paedophilia.  Physical harm, to themselves or others, including violent thoughts or thoughts of suicide or murder.  Thoughts about relationships, worrying they are no longer attracted to their partner, or that they are no longer attractive to them.  Religious or moral thoughts, doubting their beliefs or questioning their moral judgement.  These thoughts can replay over and over in a persons head causing them severe distress and anxiety, as they feel they will be judged for having them.

How do symptoms of pure-o manifest?

Psychological symptoms can cause:

  •     Severe anxiety
  •     Feelings of loneliness
  •     Intrusive thoughts and images
  •     The fear that they will hurt someone
  •     Ruminating excessively
  •     Doing or un-doing certain actions in their head
  •     Reviewing memories or information in their head

People with pure O will try and supress these thoughts, images and feelings by:

  •     Mentally repeating words, mantras or affirmations
  •     Checking their phone as a form of reassurance
  •     Mentally counting or reassuring themselves
  •     Visualising images that bring them comfort
  •     Avoiding things that might increase their anxiety
  •     Constantly seeking reassurance that they are a good person
  •     Checking on-line to find other people who feel the same as they do

Causes and risk factors

Whilst it’s not known exactly what causes some people to develop pure O certain factors can increase a person’s chances and these can include:

  •     A family history of OCD
  •     Extreme stress or trauma
  •     Other mental health conditions
  •     Genetics, MRI scans have recognised differences in nerve circuits that filter thoughts and impulses

Seeking help

If you are struggling with intrusive thoughts you should contact your medical practitioner who may prescribe antianxiety or antidepressant medication.  They can refer you to a mental health professional, who with the help of therapies such as CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) and psychotherapy, can help you to identify and cure your compulsions.

You can help yourself by using relaxation, meditation and mindfulness techniques as well as self-care, eating and sleeping well and taking regular exercise to help you to reduce stress and anxiety levels.  Written by Jan, Jeana and Wendy at Barnsley Hypnosis and Counselling (UK).  For more information click above link.

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